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Home Up KEEPING WILDLIFE WILD ASSISTING WILDLIFE BABIES FOUND A BABY MAMMAL? FLORIDA'S BABY BIRDS FOUND A BABY BIRD? FOUND A DEER FAWN?

Deer fawns... what to do if you find one

by Kelly Jensen, L.W.R., California

 

One of the more distressing occurrences at our center this year was the number of fawns we had delivered to us. It's important for everyone to realize that deer do not abandon their young. Fawns, like many other wild animal babies, are frequently hidden and left alone for hours by their mothers while they forage for food. For the first couple of weeks, these babies generally nap while waiting for their mothers to return. They lay very still so as not to attract predators (like well-intentioned human animals), and are frequently mistaken for being in distress or abandoned. If roaming about, they may appear to be weak and stumbling, and actually be newly born. Their mothers are usually within visual range, and can always hear if their baby cries out. We had fawns brought in with umbilical cords that were not even dry, and one's ears hadn't unfolded yet.

In addition to being removed unnecessarily from their mother's care, many people try to care for these dainty creatures themselves. This year, six of these tiny victims were eventually brought to the Center in real distress, and died. Milk replacers made for domestic babies like puppies or kittens, or livestock such as calves or lambs, are completely unsuitable for a fawn's delicate system and are not even digestible. Very new babies must have colostrum -- the mother's first milk -- in order to develop the antibodies in their system that protect against disease and infection. 

Let's try to educate those around us to this very real problem. The best thing you can do if you find a fawn is to:

  1. Keep an eye on the fawn for as long as possible (or until it's mother returns), and don't go near it. If the mother thinks you are too close, she may choose not to return while you're there, so it might be best to leave for a bit and then check back.
  2. Please do not attempt to feed it. If you do rescue a truly distressed fawn, and you can't bring it in immediately, plain water is the best thing you can offer it. It will be OK for several hours without food.
  3. If there are real doubts as to it's vulnerability or safety (a dead doe on a nearby road for example), or if the fawn is visibly hurt or ill, please call a local wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.

    
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Disclaimer:  The advice found on these pages is NOT intended as a do it yourself guide.  All native wildlife needs to be in the skilled hands of a licensed wildlife rehabilitator,  and any medical care must be provided by licensed veterinarians.

If you have an emergency with an injured wild animal, contact your local animal control or humane society for immediate assistance.  

This page last updated 11/27/2012 01:55 AM